When the Phoenix Suns selected Markieff Morris with the 13th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, many Suns fans groaned at the team again picking the "lesser brother" between Markieff and his brother Marcus.
Now, two months into the season, Morris has developed into the Suns most dependable bench player, averaging 8.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in 21 minutes per game and shooting an excellent 41% from behind the arc.
Morris was selected by a pool of the league's assistant coaches to play in the All-Star Weekend's Rising Stars game as he's the Suns first impact rookie since Amare Stoudemire in 2002. For the Suns to rebuild into a contender, it will take a lot more draft day successes like the Morris selection. Seeing him blossom into a solid player so quickly is an encouraging start.
Lesser brother? Hardly. Markieff Morris is the Phoenix Suns game-changer.
Morris credited his mother Thomasine for his toughness, and while Gentry might have been excited for Morris' physical toughness to bring to the Suns front line, Markieff seemed to be referring to mental toughness, resilience, work ethic and, as the matching tattoos of his and his brother Marcus read, "Family Over Everything."
That has been on display this season, as Morris has had a few bumps along the way, to be expected from any rookie, but works his way through them. He's had difficulties avoiding foul trouble and was uncomfortable playing with the starters early, but he continues to show improved consistency, bringing a lift and stability to a Suns second unit which desperately needs it.
Drafted for his interior defense, rebounding and toughness, Morris has also lived up to his billing as a top-notch 3-point shooter. This has been a tremendous help as Suns veteran stretch big man Channing Frye got off to a slow start. Morris has shown promise in his post game as well, though he still hasn't added much as a pick and roll finisher to his repertoire yet.
There is still plenty in Morris' offensive arsenal, though, as he's scored in double figures in 5 of the last 7 games, including 10 points and 8 rebounds versus the vaunted Lakers front line of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the Suns big win Sunday night.
The Suns haven't had a rookie play this well in nearly 10 years. That is a game-changer.
There is no word in the English language that expresses this feeling better than "Schadenfreude" which roughly translates from German to: "to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight"
That pretty much sums up the feeling non-Lakers fans get when reading about the mess that has become of the Los Angeles Lakers ownership and front office.
Kobe's frustration a reflection on Lakers' deteriorating front office - NBA - CBSSports.com News The Lakers are a mess, have been decaying for a few years now. Once one of the finest and classiest organizations in sports, it is no longer a fun place to work, to put it mildly. From the Odom salary dump to nearly the entire scouting staff being thrown overboard, pennies are being pinched at a time when the Lakers have entered a 20-year regional cable deal worth a reported $3 billion.
"For such a storied franchise, supposedly first class and all that, it's not what you think behind the bars there," said the person who has dealt with the Lakers as a longtime executive with other teams. "It's overrated."
You really need to read the entire article to get the full sense (and pleasure) of the situation.
It's a good day to be a Laker-hater.
Here's how the Lakers fans are seeing things (in case you needed more reason to smile):
The Suns improve their record to 14-19 and the Wizards now drop to 7-25. The Suns appeared to be in control of the game throughout the evening with the exception of a quick stint to start the 3rd quarter when the Wizards briefly took a 55-54 lead. The Suns immediately answered back with a 16-0 run to balloon their lead to 70-55, and they never looked back from that point on.
The Suns were led by Marcin Gortat's 20 points and 7 rebounds along with Steve Nash's 12 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. Channing Frye also had a very nice game scoring 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds as well. The Wizards were led by Jordan Crawford's 20 points, Trevor Booker also pitched in with 16 points 8 rebounds, and Javale McGee scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
The Suns again relied on the defense of Grant Hill to shut down the Wizard's leading scorer, Nick Young, who he held to just 2-11 shooting through the third quarter until Hill went to the bench after the Suns gained a comfortable lead. Although the Suns also shot the ball well on offense tonight, Grant Hill may have once again been the silent hero of the game with his stifling defense on Young...holding him to just 4 points during his watch.
Read on after the jump for more about what went right for the Suns tonight
Keys to Tonight's Victory:
Steve Nash had another amazing game tonight with his 12 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in his 27 minutes of play! Not much more needs to be said with those numbers...Great game from the two-time MVP
Marcin Gortat was too much for Javale McGee to handle. McGee is an incredibly long and physically gifted young center, but that proved no match for Gortat's mobility, agility and skill. Gortat finished the game with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block in his 33 minutes of play.
Grant "BAMF" Hill once again quietly had another outstanding defensive performance on the Wizards leading scorer holding Nick Young to only 4 points in the three quarters he guarded him. Hill also had 11 points but his shot was not falling consistently, yet he still found a way to have a huge impact on the game. In my game preview I gave Young the slight advantage in tonight's match-up with Hill because of Grant having to guard Kobe last night, but Grant proved me wrong with one of his best defensive performances of the season so far. Outstanding game from Grant!
Channing "The Man" Frye was once again a force to be reckoned with tonight. It seems like just yesterday that some fans were calling for Frye to be amnestied at the beginning of the season when his shot wasn't falling...but who could blame them? Frye was a one-trick pony who rarely did anything but stand behind the arc and brick 3's. Well Frye has responded as of late by working on his inside game and becoming a much more complete player. Tonight he had a huge put back dunk off a Nash miss, went 3-4 from the free throw line, and also muscled his way inside for 11 rebounds and 2 blocks to go along with his 4-7 shooting from behind the arc.
The Suns earned another much needed win at home on their back to back series, and improved their record to 14-19. The Suns' home record also improved to 7-8 which still isn't great, but seems much better than the 5-8 home record they had before these last two wins.
The Wizards certainly aren't a powerhouse team, but the Suns took care of business at home like they needed to against an inferior opponent. No excuses about tired legs or fatigue after a great win against the Lakers last night, they just got it done.
The biggest area of concern for the suns at the moment remains their 2nd unit; specifically their lack of a consistent facilitator to lead the reserves. Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price have both been given opportunities to step up and show something, yet neither one has impressed to this point. If the Suns are serious about trying to get a playoff spot they will have to address this issue sooner than later.
But for now enjoy the win Suns' fans...They may not come as easy or as frequently as we're accustomed to anymore, but they sure are sweet when they happen nonetheless!
Read the game notes below for some in-depth analysis of the game as it happened.
Channing Frye hits his first 3-point attempt!
Nice pass from Dudley to find Gortat in the lane for an easy dunk!
Great hustle by Nash and then Dudley to steal the ball from Wall…Love the energy from the Suns to start the game!
Another great pass this time from Frye to Gortat but Marcin left it short.That’s already two great passes from Frye but neither shot was made so no credit for the assist…He’s been working on his inside game and now apparently his passes as well.
McGee is showing off those incredibly long arms with two blocks already.
Suns still playing with good energy and hustle but they are a little sloppy so far on offense and too careless with the ball.
Javale McGee showing off those incredibly long arms…Already with two blocks in the early part of the first quarter.
OUTSTANDING ball movement by the Suns…Great passes around the perimeter where the ball touched every players’ hands and some twice before Frye shot and hit a three!
Suns lead 14-10 halfway through the first quarter.Frye with 8 points and three rebounds to lead all scorers thus far
Nash with yet another block this season…his third of the year!This time on John Wall!
Frye with the BEASTLY put-back jam on the missed free throw from Nash!!!
Jordan Crawford showing his nice shooting touch.
Grant now with four missed shots most were short off the front iron…I’m guessing tired legs after guarding Kobe last night.
Washington starting to catch up now, down only two points at the moment.Suns holding onto a 21-19 lead at the moment.
Gortat with the "Machine Shake" to finish with a nice right baby hook!
Suns lead 31-25 at the end of the 1st quarter.Suns shooting 48%, Wizards 44%.Suns with 18rbs, Wizards with 12rbs.Suns with 3 TO’s, Wizards with 2 TO’s.Frye leading the Suns with 10 points, Josh Trevor Booker and John wall lead the Wizards each with 6 points.
Oop to Javale McGee to start the 2nd quarter for the Wizards
Morris with the nice position to draw a charge on Jordan Crawford
Morris with another nice defensive attempt to block McGee at the basket but he was a little late and got called for the goal-tend…I love the effort I’m seeing from Keef though!
2nd unit for the Suns is stagnant offensively to start the 2nd quarter.No points yet for the Suns in the first couple of minutes.Gentry calls timeout to talk things over.
Telfair hits a jump shot to end the scoring drought for the Suns.
Wizards are 4-4 from the field to start the 2nd quarter.
Washington has tied it up 36-36 midway through the 2nd quarter.Gentry has seen enough and goes back to all 5 starters…except Redd was shooting free throws so Dudley has to wait.
Redd showing some confidence with a nice make off the dribble!
Nice dunk by Gortat off the Nash pick and roll.
The offense is running smoothly again now that the starters are back in.
Nash with a steal and then the nice feed to Gortat off the pick and roll for the lay in!
Nick Young with a pretty jumper off the dribble to bring the Wizards within three.
Morris with another great defensive play to take a charge on John Wall with :008 sec left in the first half
Suns lead 53-48 at the end of the 2nd quarter.Suns shooting 49%, Wizards 48%.Suns with 21rbs, Wizards with 21rbs.Suns with 9 TO’s, Wizards with 7 TO’s.Gortat leading the Suns with 13 points 4 rbs, Frye with 11 points 8rbs. Jordan Crawford leads the Wizards with 11 points.Uh-Oh…Phoenix lost the 2nd quarter 23-22…Will Alex’s omen come true?
Slow start to the 3rd quarter for the Suns.Gortat is fouled at the last second before the shot clock goes off to send him to the free throw line where he hits both.
Gortat tries to save a missed ball from Hill and ends up stuck in the second row seats behind the basket…The Wizards are able to grab their first miss at the rim for a second chance bucket in his absence.Gentry calls a time out.
The sloppy play continues for the Suns even with the starters in and the Wizards take advantage to take their first lead of the game 55-54
Frye with a nice block inside…Dudley gets to the rim in transition and the Suns regain the lead.
Gortat with excellent defense on McGee and then draws a charge..>Then scores on the other end to put the suns up by 3.
Dudley hits a jumper and then Nash hits one to make an 8-0 run by the Suns after Washington briefly took the lead.Timeout Wizards as the Suns now lead 62-55 halfway through the 3rd quarter
Nash with one of his trademark amazing fade-away shots…He and Gortat are now putting on a clinic against the Wizards!
Grant Hill has quietly held Nick Young to 2-11 shooting tonight…BAMF!
Some bench players coming in now mixing with the starters.Suns still firmly in control
Gortat now has 20 points!
Suns lead 85-61 at the end of the 3rd quarter.Suns shooting 50%, Wizards 39%.Suns with 26rbs, Wizards with 35rbs.Suns with 11 TO’s, Wizards with 11 TO’s.Gortat leading the Suns with 20 points 7 rbs, Trevor Booker leading the Wizards with 16 points.Suns outscore Wizards 32-13 in the 3rd quarter. It looks like this game will be the exception to Alex's law of the 2nd quarter...the Suns are on a roll!
The 2nd unit along with Gortat starts the 4th quarter.
The offense is running smoothly with the back-ups in so far.The 20+ point lead could have something to do with that though
2nd unit still doing adequately and holding the lead right around 20 points to keep the veteran starters comfy on the bench
Channing Frye comes in for Gortat to give him some rest…He then hits a three to give an extra scoring boost to the 2nd unit.
Michael Redd and Channing Frye now dialing in the three’s.Channing now has 19 points to go along with his 11 rebounds.Very solid game tonight from Frye.
Suns win 104-88.Suns shoot 47%, Wizards 43%.Suns with 43rbs, Wizards with 44rbs.Suns with 14 TO’s, Wizards with 17 TO’s.Gortat led the Suns with 20 points 7 rebounds, Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 20 points.